The refusal of Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy to say a single word against the BJP government at the Centre or the CBI which is investigating the Saradha scam on Saturday is definitely an indication of things to come. Roy, who was addressing a political rally in Bongaon ahead of the bypoll, merely appealed to voters to vote for the Trinamool, a far cry from his earlier, vociferous attacks against the central investigative agency along with chief minister Mamata Banerjee. A section of political observers believe Roy will gradually disassociate himself from the party so as to ward off more trouble for himself vis-à-vis the CBI.
Many experts believe that advancing the assembly polls — scheduled for May 2016 — by nearly a year to June-July 2015 may be the only way out for Mamata, who has had to deal with a lot of negative publicity ever since the arrest of former party MP Srinjoy Bose and Madan Mitra, a loyalist of the chief minister who is still languishing behind bars. Early polls will certainly deflect attention from the Saradha scam, besides giving Mamata a way to counter the BJP’s growing presence in Bengal.
Sources said that Roy, who was one of the founders of the Trinamool, had wanted Mamata to stop attacking the saffron party and enter into some kind of silent compromise with it, which would not only help stave off further heat on the Saradha issue but also ease the cash-strapped government’s financial troubles.
But Mamata did not agree and the government went to Supreme Court accusing the CBI of conducting an unfair investigation. The chief minister, on her part, did not want to lose the Trinamool’s sizeable Muslim vote, which helped her storm to power three and a half years ago.
Party insiders believe that Roy now has little option other than distancing himself from the party leadership and maintaining a low profile. Political experts feel that breaking away from the Trinamool may not help Roy in these circumstances as history indicates. Rather, Roy will follow a wait and watch policy. Interestingly, experts also believe that Roy’s distancing himself from the Trinamool is in no way a setback for Mamata nor will it prevent her from forging ahead.
With Roy’s differences with Mamata now out in the open, he is also keeping his friends close to him as is evident from his visit to Furfura Sharif recently. Roy met religious leader Twaha Siddique there, fuelling speculation about the factionalism in Trinamool. Some party insiders believe that if Subrata Mukherjee, a veteran in politics and a survivor, comes forward to take Roy’s place or is elevated, then Trinamool may benefit. For Mukherjee is experienced and has good relations with the media and Opposition parties like the Congress and the CPI(M). If Mamata takes this step, it would smoothen things with senior leaders who were annoyed by Abhishek’s elevation. So far as early polls are concerned, there are precedents. Former chief minister Jyoti Basu had requested the then Governor to dissolve the assembly and early elections were held in 1991 in West Bengal, nearly a year in advance after the Chandrashekhar government at the Centre failed to survive. So, both the Lok Sabha and assembly polls were held at the same time.
While sources close to the chief minister say she is not worried about a split in her party, rebels may be give her headaches. When asked about Mamata’s options, former CPI(M) stalwart Abdur Rezzak Mollah said, “She has no way out but to go for an early election because things are not going well for her party and her government. Things are still under her control and it is better for her to prepare for polls in these circumstances.” BJP workers attacked
BJP supporters were allegedly attacked by TMC men at Bhatikhana under Ward 116 in Behala, injuring five, with one of them being in a critical condition. The clash took place after around 150 Trinamool supporters reportedly switched over to the BJP camp. Prior to the switchover, the venue turned into a battleground, and the programme had to be stopped midway.